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Ovechkin Chase Of Gretzky Begins With Bang: Projections, Hopes and the Count

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Ovechkin is eyeing Gretzky's goal record.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Despite being a game-time decision for Wednesday’s opener, it was as if Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin was never injured. He was 100 percent ready for the New York Rangers and hit the ground running, dishing two goals and four points in his first game.

The Capitals captain picked up two power-play assists to kick things off for Washington and hit 500 career power-play points early on. Then, in the third period, Ovechkin did what he did best. On the power play, a John Carlson point shot hit Anthony Mantha in front and bounced out in front of the crease. Ovechkin raced to the loose puck and lasered it past Alexandar Georgiev for his first goal of the 2021-22 campaign.

With his first tally, the Great 8 tied Marcel Dionne for fifth on the all-time NHL goals list with his 731st career goal. He needed one more to take sole possession of that spot and didn’t disappoint.

Later in the period with 4-on-4 play winding down as the result of two penalties, Kuznetsov lobbed the puck up to a streaking Ovechkin, who crashed the net and went forehand to backhand Ovechkin streaking toward the net. The goal technically came on the PK, resulting in Ovi’s first shorthanded strike since 2009 (also against New York).

He now sits 163 goals from breaking Gretzky’s all-time goals record. Dionne also took the time to congratulate No. 8.

Wednesday marked the first game of Ovechkin’s five-year extension he signed in late July. And from the looks of his first game of the year, Ovechkin is showing no signs of slowing down.

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Right now, Ovechkin needs to net at least 33 goals per year to break the record within the terms of his new deal. He’s currently skating on the top line left wing alongside Evgeny Kuznetsov and Tom Wilson. He will be 40 years old when his contract expires in 2026.

“I hope he [breaks the record]… it would be awesome,” Penguins captain Sidney Crosby told ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski at the NHL Media Tour. “He’s in range. He can score anywhere from inside the blue line.”

Ovechkin said at the end of the day, he “just try to do my job” and is excited to continue chasing the record.

“I just enjoy my time. Of course, it’s huge privilege being on that list, but as I say all the time, game by game, day by day,” Ovechkin said.

He needs 10 more goals to pass Brett Hull (741) for fourth on the NHL’s all-time list. Next, he would need 35 to pass Jagr (766). Right now, he’s 68 goals away from 800 career goals, 70 from passing Gordie Howe’s 801 for second and 163 away from No. 99.

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